Silverfern.net Homepage


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The Silverfern is part of the native flora of New Zealand.  It is a member of the tree fern families that inhabit New Zealand and can grow up to 10m in height.  It's scientific name is (Cyathea dealbat - see the Wiki entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Fern for more detailed information).

Growing up in New Zealand, it is ubiquitous and is not something that you really think about, but in recently visiting New Zealand, I found a description of why the national rugby team's emblem is the Silverfern and not the Kiwi bird.

It turns out that the use of this plant, as the Rugby team's emblem, comes from early in the 20th century, before a 1905 tour of England, when the team emblem was being decided between the Kiwi and the Silverfern.  Two of the distinctive lifeforms on the islands (using a small reptile - the Tuatara - as the emblem didn't seem to suit many people) were up for selection and the Maori tribes that were consulted all agreed that the Silverfern was the best choice for a fledgling country's Rugby team making it's way in the world.

The Maori used this plant as a marker in the forests during hunting (both of other tribes and food) forays.  The first man in a party would turn over a leaf and the last man would turn it back.  This way they would move as a unit, unobserved through the forests.  The Silverfern was a guide and gave a sense of direction, important to both a hunting party and to a fledgling national rugby team.  The Kiwi on the other hand was a slow flightless bird that only came out at night and was quite tasty.  Not the makings of a national emblem.  Or so the story I read went.